How to Build a Wood Deck

Wood Deck Construction

entertaining on the deck

Back Yard Entertainment

First of all, I find that having a wood deck attached to the rear of the house provides many uses. I do all my grilling and entertaining on the deck when the weather permits. It's a great place to have friends and family over for good times. The deck also serves as additional storage and living space.

Keep in mind that building a wood deck will require a substantial amount of lumber depending on the size of your project. Most home improvement stores or lumber yards can estimate your exact wood requirements for your specific project. Generally your deck dimensions and height above ground are all that will be needed to build a materials list for you new wood deck.

The location will need to be mapped out. Before I started I mapped out the area for any obstructions or utilities buried underground. Once your deck is in place you wouldn't want to tear it out to fix something underneath it!

framing up the deck structure

Designing a Wood Deck

I have seen a lot of decks built with the typical 4X4 post. I personally find the 4X4 post a little on the small size. Structurally they do the job but visually they are small in my opinion. I used 6X6 post throughout my deck. The cost is a little more but, the outcome is more visually impressive when finished.

For my project I constructed a 32 foot wide by 10 foot deep deck with a 8 foot by 6 foot landing attached about in the middle for the stairs leading to the driveway. The 32X10 deck provides ample room for a table and chairs, grill, and other various items. The attached landing was kind of an after thought but worked out very well. I didn't want the stairs shooting straight off the main deck area. With the added landing area, the deck railing actually seems to enclose the whole deck from the yard / street etc.


Deck Notes

laying the wood deck boards

Construction Technique

To start, I attached a 2X10 bandboard to the house using a framing nailer and then secured it with lag bolts into the house structure. The bandboard was my starting point for determining the rest of the deck structure. From there I measured out to find my post positions. Post's were set on 8 foot centers, which amounted to five total posts. Once the posts were set in place I attached the exterior deck bandboards. The outside frame for the deck consisted of the house bandboard and the 2X12 exterior bandboards that ran the perimeter of the deck.

I prefer not to see the ends of the deck boards as a finished product. To accomplish this I made a little jig out of a piece of 2X10 floor joist and a piece of the 5/4 (pronounced "five-quarter") wood deck boards. With those two pieces attached to one another I fastened the joist hangars where the 5/4 wood deck boards would be flush with the top of the exterior bandboards. This gives a nice clean finished appearance when the job is complete.

Once all the joist hangers are in place at 16 inch centers the deck boards can go down. The deck boards I used were 5/4 treated and 16 foot long. I started the first row at the house and worked my way toward the outside. Remember to stagger all of your butt joints. Staggering the joints makes a more rigid structure. I staggered mine by running two 16 footers (16 - 16) then the next row was 8 - 16 - 8. It seemed to work out quite well, appearance and structurally that is. The distance to the outside bandboard should be checked at various stages to ensure uniformity of the deck boards. As far as the gap between the boards go, I tried to leave no gap. I know, I've heard many people say to put a nail between each board to allow for a uniform gap and expansion but, I have never seen a wood deck expand, just shrink. I installed my 5/4 deck boards butted up to one another and once the deck dried out it was gapped perfectly.

Tools Required to Build a Wood Deck

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